Interview: Deadbeat Darling

I am so excited to share this week's PUMP Sessions interview with Brooklyn rockers, Deadbeat Darling. I've seen these boys melt faces for years and they have absolutely exploded both stateside and across the pond. If you haven't caught a gig yet, you are most certainly missing out. I mean, come on, just take a look at that press photo above, by Deneka Peniston. Straight up Rock n Roll. Big thanks to front man, Joe King for taking time out from their buys album release schedule to share his story with us. Enjoy. x

I love the name Deadbeat Darling. From what I understand, it stems from a lyric that you [Joe] wrote during his early days in New York. What was the meaning behind the lyric and how did you come up with the term?

The name is a lyric from a song "Lover Says It's Late", which I wrote during my first winter in NYC. I guess it was originally a self-moniker - in context of the song, it's what my lover calls me when she was trying to reason with me.

I read that you moved from Austin to New York back in 2005. Is that where you grew up? And what brought you to Brooklyn?

I grew up in San Antonio, about an hour South of Austin, but in a way would claim Austin as my hometown because that's where my musical roots are. I had a band for 6 years there that had a pretty successful run, and when I decided to bring it to an end, I wanted a fresh start. So my ex-girl and I packed our shit up in a U-haul in October 2005 and made our way to New York. I had lots of friends here and was ready for the challenge of re-inventing myself in the big city.

Very few Brooklyn-based rock bands hail from New York City. Where is everyone else from originally?

The only member of the band that is originally from Brooklyn is Mo. Evan was born in St. Louis and made his way to Brooklyn via New Orleans. Ian is Western Canadian, hailing from Alberta.

You’re in the trendy neighborhood of Williamsburg, which seems to be the Mecca of Rock n Roll for the better part of the last decade. I moved there in 2004 and except for a stint in LA, it’s been home ever since. What drew you there in the first place and what do you enjoy most about the area?

I enjoy being in walking distance from the guys in my band as well as a slew of our artist friends. It makes hanging at local dives or backyards painless and frequent, at least when we're in town. We live on the outskirts of Williamsburg, so it's a tad less trendy than say the Bedford stop and a bit more of a neighborhood, but still occupied by many a fresh tattoo of course.

Deadbeat Darling - Surf India

I’ve been seeing you guys play around NYC for years and was excited to hear of your signing with a UK label. What was that like and how did it come to fruition? And what was the first UK tour like?

A bit of luck really. A good friend, who is now one of our managers, is a lovely British chap named Danny. He helped set up a run of shows for us in London in late 2010, and while looking for sponsorship for the run, approached a Danish gentleman named Peter, who coincidentally, had started a new record label (Spearhavoc Records). Peter and his partners loved the old album and came out to see us play in London, had a big party and a big meeting, and the rest is history.

This new record sounds amazing. What was it like working with Ken Nelson in the studio? His resume is quite impressive.

First of all, thank you. Working with Ken was lovely- we were in a remote residential studio in Wales for 6 weeks recording, and he made the process very serene. His process is very pure- play the song as it's written on the instruments you would play it on regularly, focus on performance and let him worry about capturing sounds.

The album runs the gamut of sounds, and I mean that as a massive compliment. I hear everything from dirty rock to soft ballads and even a bit of reggae on “Bodies Give Up The Ghost” - who were your musical influences on this record, as opposed to “Weight of Wandering?”

The rhythm section is completely different on this album with Evan and Ian joining the band since "WOW", so inevitably the direction is a little different. We abandoned lots of the keyboard and electronic elements and went for a more live, organic vibe. We've always had a bit of dub undercurrent to the material, I think the lineup now brings more of the "dirty rock" element.

You named the new album, “The Angel’sShare.” What is the story behind the title?

We recorded this album on a slow drip of Irish Whiskey and Scotch. One night after tracking we were having a Scotch with Ken Nelson and he told us a story about the "Angel's Share", which is a reference to the small amount of whiskey that evaporates or absorbs into the wood of the barrels it's aged in. We thought it was quite an appropriate name for the record. Coincidentally, it's also the name of the bar in NYC I used to frequent with the girl I wrote "Peculiar Grace" for.

The last time I saw you perform was down in Austin at SXSW a few weeks ago. How was your trip this year? How many gigs did you guys perform that week? And how was the tour down and back? Any crazy road warrior stories for the readers?

The trip was great. Austin is always an adventure for us. We played 6 shows and ended the week with one of the most epic wrap parties we've ever had, which included members of like 7 or 8 bands from NYC and Austin, and lots and lots of festivities. The tour there and back was mostly good with a few shit nights. New Orleans and Chicago were great shows, with a sleeper show at The Boobie Trap in Topeka, KS. Great little rock bar!

How do you guys kill time in the van while on the road? Who plays DJ on the stereo? Who is the best gear packer? It can be like a game of Tetris twice a day and some are definitely better than others. I am not one of them.

We're either working online, babbling about ridiculousness, or sleeping. Whoever is shotgun is almost always the DJ because he is the only one required to be awake (besides the driver). Evan is definitely the best packer. It's almost always the drummer because they are typically the most neurotic OCD member of the band. Ha.

You have always had a very energetic live set, which is what first sold me on
the band. Now it seems like you have found a real flow with one another that is
absolutely infectious to the audience. How do you maintain that energy and then keep it together after the set when I see you talking to fans at the merch table?

Again, thank you for the high compliment. I've always been a hyper kid with a wealth of energy and a genuine love of people for the most part, so it just sort of works out. Not to say that there aren't nights I feel like strangling people, but in general I think DBD as a whole like the whole process of playing, meeting fans and chasing the tail of the midnight cat so to speak. It's a natural sorta thing.

At PUMP Merch we’ve seen an explosion of creativity in band merchandising
offerings. It’s not just t-shirts and hoodies any more. For obvious reasons, this
form of income for artists has become ever-increasingly important. What does
Deadbeat Darling offer their fans?

Right now our merch is sort of straight forward. But after these first runs, expect all sorts of bizarre merch from us. Ian is busy designing the G-strings as we speak...

It is often noted that the most successful bands have always been accessible to
their fans, especially after the show while slinging merch. That way you can start recognizing the hardcore fans as you start seeing them regularly at gigs. But fan interaction is seemingly just as important online. How do you guys deal with Facebook and Twitter?

We're trying to make our FB and Twitter posts a sort of menagerie of useful information, useless information, insightful stream of consciousness, and nonsensical babble. Whatever happens to be on the tip of our tongues, as long as we put it out. One of our favorite things is to make random sort of vignette video blogs when we're traveling- those are our favorite things to post...

What other local and regional acts do you guys like to play with? Have you played with any bands that just blew your mind? And what are your favorite New York

As far as NYC bands, we love BLACK TAXI, Caveman, Smoota, Hank & Cupcakes, and so many more. We also have a big sweet spot for Girl In A Coma from San Antonio right now.  Two bands on the last tour we loved were Jack Of Hearts from Atlanta, and this crazy band from Tokyo called Depaysement, who played with in Indianapolis on my birthday. The guys in the band kept pretending they flew them out as my birthday gift.

As far as venues, Bowery Ballroom is always our favorite, and for smaller shows we love Rockwood Stage 2 and in Brooklyn's Cameo.

You did a run of dates with Blue October, which was really cool. I’ve seen them
a couple of times and they kill it onstage. What band would you give anything to
open for?

The Doors. Oh wait...

With the album out NOW, what can we expect from Deadbeat Darlings in the
immediate future? Any upcoming gigs we should know about?

We have a very big show in NYC coming up in late May. We will be announcing it very soon. After that, it looks like we'll be on a month long tour through the US starting in mid-June, followed by a late Summer UK/European run. For this month, it's nice to be settled back in Brooklyn...